Navy Accuses IOCs of Aiding Oil Theft

•Threatens to name and shame culprits

By Senator Iroegbu

The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) of aiding and abetting all forms of criminality in the nation’s maritime sector, especially crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and piracy.

Jibrin stated this yesterday in Abuja during a meeting with chief executives of the IOCs at the naval headquarters’ conference room to discuss issues on crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other related crimes in the nation’s maritime sector.

He expressed anger and frustration over the failure of most oil companies to treat the meeting with the seriousness it deserved, saying that it was meant to find solutions to the aforementioned challenges that had eaten deeply into the fabric of country’s economy.

The CNS stressed that the meeting was “conveyed to discuss some of the security challenges that we have in the maritime sector, particularly oil theft and illegal bunkering.

“When a meeting of this nature is called, the IOCs must take it very seriously. After all, it took me almost seven-and-a-half months to call for this meeting and specifically, we said we were not going to accept representation, not that those of you representing your various companies are not competent enough to discuss the issue, but to drive home the point we wish to make today.

“We want to make the point very clear that we have a serious challenge and we need the cooperation of the chief executives to be able to provide solutions to the daunting security challenges with respect to oil theft.

“Particularly, it has become very worrisome that we have not been able to check this and I personally believe that it had reached a point that instead of pointing accusing fingers at one another, we shall be mentioning names, including the major stakeholders”.

The naval chief said authorities and concerned stakeholders “cannot pretend to say that the oil companies do not have a hand in some of the illegalities‚Äù, adding, ‚ÄúPretending otherwise is to allow you to continue and on my part I will not pretend.

“I can start by citing some examples of some companies that have left their well heads open for years and they have done nothing to seal their wells.

“I am very much conversant with this, as we cannot provide solutions to these problems and believe that because of the technical nature of the manifolds that once the manifolds are closed and sealed only the experts can open them.”

Providing details to back up his allegations, Jibrin said he has pictures, which exposes the complicity of the IOCs in crude oil theft.

“I can pass them round for you to look at them. Why is it that as gentlemen that you all are, you cannot sit at a round table and provide solutions? Why are we dirtying the image of this country?

“I believe that it has reached a point whereby we should meet to discuss and provide solutions to oil theft,” he said.

Speaking further, the CNS said the government was worried “and those of us that are agents of government are equally worried”.

He promised that on the part of the Nigerian Navy, it would deal decisively with any of its personnel involved in oil theft, adding, “The person will be dealt with in accordance with the existing laws of the armed forces.”

Jibrin however noted that he had limitations as to what he could do with the oil companies, since they are not directly under his control.

“But I have decided that I will take some steps such that if a manifold, for instance, is open for years and our attention is drawn to the need for its closure and the companies who own these oil wells are not taking appropriate action, we shall look for them and start arresting them as we are not only losing crude oil but also revenue that is meant to accrue to the government.

“You also pollute the environment and you want to continue to do business in our various communities unhindered, unmolested, and to the extent that youths will not protest. So we must work assiduously together to get the synergy and the desired result to curb oil theft,” he added.

Responding on behalf of the IOCs, the Chairman, Security Sub-Committee, Oil Producers Trade Sector, Mr. Ayobami Olubiyi, assured the navy of their support in the ongoing effort to curb crude oil theft, piracy and other forms of criminality in the maritime sector.

“We want to assure you concerning the crude oil theft. Companies will be assisting the federal government to mitigate the oil theft and other related issues,” Olubiyi said.

“As far as we are concerned, we will continue to advocate an improved platform for the Nigerian Navy,” he added.


Original Article